Cellerator - biological computer

is a multi-purpose personal laboratory whose size, capabilities and price enable industrial and individual use in rapid biotech prototyping.

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As the personal computer made programming easier, Cellerator (personal laboratory) makes synthetic biology easier. Grow cells, harvest proteins, make designer beers all from the comfort of your keyboard.

Computer code has made some amazing software. Turning on 0’s and 1’s really, really fast has led to 3D animation for video games and movies, cameras can utilize computer vision to focus on faces, storing information on the internet, and self-driving cars capable of safely navigating roads.

Biology code (DNA) has made some amazing proteins. Turning DNA into Proteins really, really fast has led to spider silk proteins that are stronger than Kevlar, firefly bio-luminescent light, milk for cheeses and ice-creams, collagen that makes up skin, hormones to signal cells, enzymes to break down lipids and sugars, and DNA has created YOU!

Science and industry have harnessed the power of the protein. Spiber is making jackets out of synthetic silk. Nyoka has created a bio-luminescent glow stick. Perfect Day is working on cow free dairy and Modern Meadows is making cow free leather. Novo Nordisk creates synthetic insulin to treat diabetes. We have enzymes in our laundry detergent to break up grease, enzyme supplements to process dairy, and culinary enzymes to remove cellulose from fruits and glue meats together. Out of all the naturally occurring proteins and engineered proteins, humanity hasn’t even scratched the surface.

The personal computer (PC) brought computation power to everyone, leading to some astonishing code. I want to do the same with proteins. Just envision a world where the average person could create with proteins. I envision trillions of proteins, cleaning up toxins from the environment, RuBisCO solar panels, roads made out of self-healing bio-ceramics, designer food that is good for you and the environment, and medicines. 

Harnessing the power of proteins will be the tool of the future.


This file contains the cut, fold and drill markings for cellerator.

Adobe Portable Document Format - 917.75 kB - 07/10/2020 at 10:13



(2x) Holds the X-axis stepper motor, and the roller wheels.

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 234.85 kB - 07/11/2020 at 22:39



(2x) Holds the stepper motor and Y-axis rails.

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 188.85 kB - 07/11/2020 at 22:39



(2x) Holds the stepper idler bearing (pulley mechanism) and Y-axis rails.

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 96.27 kB - 07/15/2020 at 15:18



(1x) Holds the stepper motor to Z-axis.

Standard Tesselated Geometry - 150.67 kB - 07/11/2020 at 22:39


View all 6 files

  • 1 × Steel 1008 Cold Rolled Sheet, 3/64 inch (.05mm), 48 inch X 96 inch
  • 1 × Paint Sherwin White Enamal Paint B54WZ401
  • 1 × Z-axis Lead Screw T8 Lead Screw Dia 8MM Pitch 500mm
  • 2 × X-Axis_motor_mount (3D Print)
  • 2 × Y-Axis_motor_mount (3D Print)

View all 32 components

  • Bench Tool

    S James Parsons Jr07/15/2020 at 22:21 0 comments

    To keep prices low.  Bench tools are controlled via an Arduino Uno via I2C protocol. The Arduino uses a blank PCB board propagated with an RJ11 jack,  XHP-JST, and other electrical components.   The RJ11 jack is connected to the IC2 Pins located at A4 and A5.  XHP-JST connectors are used to make connections with external sensors or inputs.  Lastly, the PCB can accommodate other electrical components: LEDs, Resistors, ICs and the like.

    Example Shield

  • Hand and Hand Tool

    S James Parsons Jr07/15/2020 at 20:01 0 comments


    The drivetrain positions the hand over the hand tool. The hand and hand tool are connected via magnets and by the geometry of the hand tool insert. This aligns the pogo pins to the hand tool pads. The drivetrain moves in the X-Axis, sliding the Hand tool off of the tool shelf.

    • (2x) RJ45 Breakout Board - one for the hand and one for the SBC
    • (2x) HDMI Breakout Board - one for the hand and one for the SBC
    • (4x) Magnets
    • (1x) Camera_Servo_Mount.stl
    • (1x) SG90 Servo
    • (1x) 8 MP Camera
    • (8x) Pogopins - 6 pins for data, 2 pins for power
    • (1x) Hand.stl

    Hands Tools

    The hand tools have 12v power and 6 data pins to the SBC. Current hand tools include a 1cc syringe pipetter, a magnetic whisker, a 405nm termination laser, and a UV-C Wand. Planned tools include ultrasonic homogenizer, microscope head for camera, gripper, and vacuum gripper.

    • (1x) Hand-ToolAttachment.stl
    • (4x) Screws
    • (8x) Data Pads

  • Software - GUI [Graphic User Interface]

    S James Parsons Jr07/14/2020 at 17:57 0 comments

    User - Log into Cellerator

    Lab - Generates a visual representation of one Cellerators hand tools and bench tools or a farm of Cellerators.

    Hand Tool - Environment for adding, deleting, and modifying Hand Tools

    Bench Tool - Environment for adding, deleting, and modifying Bench Tools

    Experiment Calendar
    - Manages concurrent running experiments and steps

    Design Experiment - A tool that guides the user through an experiment design
    Peer Review - A forum for discussion before, during, and after an experiment.

    Under Development

    Sell Downtime - A market place to farm out parts of an experiment

    Under Development

    Data Analysis - A section to specify hypotheses, evaluate outcomes, compare hypotheses with real-time data views, and adjust protocols accordingly.

    Under Development

    ELN (Electronic Laboratory Notebook) - All steps, collected data, processed data, images/videos/time lapses, data processed images/videos/time lapse, stored into a simple to view HTML file.

    Publish - Is a tool to finalize the experiment, with conclusion designer, and uploads the findings positive or negative to journals or experiment repository.

    Under Development

    gCode Sender - Debugging Tool

    Photo - Photo Debugging Tool

  • Software - Overview

    S James Parsons Jr07/13/2020 at 22:51 0 comments

    Sequence Diagram 

    Basic overview on how the user interacts with the computer and how the computer communicates with everything else.

    Coding Syntax

    The programming syntax is under development. 

    The current implementation is that protocols are composed of steps, which are in turn composed of tasks.  The current programming syntax is called FAVR (Favor) .


    Function(Action, Inputs)[Verification][Record] 

    Function is the main part of the code.  The user can pass either a hand, tool, calibrate, time tasks or logic.  Hand functions will be for water, air, vacuum.  Tool functions will be either hand tools or bench tools.  Calibrate function finds location of all tools, and sterilizes the build volume.  Time specified wait, do, and other basic intervals to sync with the Calendar.  Tasks are a combination of multiple FAVR commands.  And lastly logic, for, if, loop, etc. 

    Action dictates the behavior of the specified Function.

    Verification is usually set to 'Default' which will use the Action specified Verification, this can be camera images/stills/videos/time-lapse, QR Codes, or sensor data collected from hand tools and bench tools.

    Record is usually set to ELN (Electronic Laboratory Notebook). This generates a real-time HTML with images, videos, collected data, and data points. Pages are served using a LAMP server.


    Each protocol starts with calibration code. The calibrate code scans the build volume for QR Codes. The QR Codes are located on each tool and contain the QR code/tool location, volume measurement, and port location. Once scanned, the tool driver is updated with the current data. Future versions will include the UV-C Wand paint to sterilize the build volume before running an experiment.

  • Drivetrain

    S James Parsons Jr07/13/2020 at 22:50 0 comments

    X-axis contains

    • (2x) X-axis_motor_mounts.stl
    • (2x) Chrome linear motion rods
    • (4x) Wheel assemblies

    Y-Axis contains

    • (2x) Y-axis_motor_mount.stl (LEFT) 
    • (2x) Y-axis_idler_mount.stl (RIGHT)
    • (2x) Stepper Motors
    • Pulley Assembly

    Z-axis contains

    • (2x) Z-Axis_gantry_mount.stl
    • (2x) Y-Axis linear ball bearing (YELLOW)

    Z-axis Arm comprises

    • (1x) Stepper Motor
    • (1x) 8020 T-Slot Rail
    • (1x) Z-Axis_motor_mount.stl
    • (1x) 8mm Threaded Lead Screw
    • (1x) Lead screw Coupler
    • (1x) 8mm Thread Lead POM screw nut

  • Electronics Outline

    S James Parsons Jr07/13/2020 at 22:35 0 comments

    Electronic Hardware

    1. Raspberry Pi 4 (4 Gb)
    2. Raspberry Pi Camera (8MP)
    3. SG90 Servo (Tilt for Camera)
    4. Arducam B0091 (CSI to HDMI breakout)
    5. RJ11 (Bench tool communication via I2C protocol)
    6. Shift Register (Control the 8 Channel Relay)
    7. 8 Channel Relay ( Controls power for bench tools)
    8. RGBW LEDs (Array of WS2912B LEDs)
    9. Hand tool RJ45 (Hand tool communication via GPIO pins)
    10. Arduino Uno R3
    11. Arduino CNC Shield
    12. Motor Controller (A4988)
    13. Stepper Motors
    14. End Stops

  • Solution

    S James Parsons Jr07/12/2020 at 00:03 0 comments

    The proposed solution is a personal lab in a box. The box contains a robotic arm and eye. The arm is capable of interfacing with hand-tools and bench tools. A SBC (Single Board Computer) is used to control the robotic arm, record data from the digital camera, and interface with hand tools and bench tools. The combination of these elements will allow for cheaper experiments, easier skill sets based on software, and automation to free up time.

    The box is 400x400x400mm in volume, with easy expansion in the X-direction. The box is a solid construction to keep water and clean air inside the box. The box is insulated to hold in incubation heat and dampen noise.

    The robotic arm will be designed to utilize gCode, a widely adopted robotic instruction language. This language is used in additive manufacturing, CNC, and laser cutting. The drivetrain of the robotic arm is based on the Open Source Ecology 3D Printers. The hand tool system is modeled after FarmBots UTM (Universal Tool Mount).

    The eye is an 8MP digital camera attached to a 180 tilt servo. The Servo and the Camera are connected to the SBC via an HDMI cord, capable of capturing still images, time-lapse, and video. These three formats can be used in parallel with image processing software.

    Cellerator groups laboratory tools into two categories, hand tools and bench tools. Some common hand tools are pipetter, whisker, pH meter, magnetic wand and tweezers. Some common bench tools are scale, incubator, centrifuge, gel electrophoresis chamber, bioreactor, and affinity column. 

    Cellerator has a hand to interface with hand tools. The hand contains a magnet coupler, RJ45, and power.  The magnets align to the hand tool and allow for docking.  The RJ45 port connects to 8 pogo pins, 2 pogo pins are for 12v power and ground, the other six pins are for communication to the GPIO pins. Future versions will incorporate water and airline. 

    Bench tool contains ¼” diameter feet, RJ11 port, and power.  The bench contains an array of 1”x1”  ¼” holes and the bench tool is connected via pegs on the feet. The RJ11 port contains 4 pins, 2 pins are for 12v power and ground, the other 2 pins are for communication via I2C protocol.  Bench tools who need more than 12V have access to the power switch relay for power up to 120V.  Future versions will incorporate QR code that communicates QR code locations, device name, volume, and port locations.

  • Constraints

    S James Parsons Jr07/11/2020 at 23:56 0 comments



    Size: Fits on a standard desk or in a fume hood

    Depth: 400mm (16 inch) 

    Height: 400mm (16 inch) 

    Width: 400mm (16 inch) Expandable.

    Weight: Reasonable Shipping Rates



    $3000 for Cellerator, basic hand-tools, and bench tool suite.


    120 AC Input, Output 12V DC, 5V DC, 3.3V DC

    Grounded chassis


    60 decibels

    Limit Cross Contamination 

    Air and Watertight



    Serializable material

    Stainless steel, aluminum (has problems with HCl)




    Modular for expansion and portability

  • The Problem

    S James Parsons Jr07/10/2020 at 01:45 0 comments

    Since we have observed that biotech is expensive, highly technical, and time-consuming, we want to lower the cost, simplify the needed skill, and automate labor-intensive tasks for anyone interested in biotech discoveries. This will lead to more discoveries in material, fuel, food, pharma, and medical science and the effect will be measured by the amount of generated publications.

View all 9 project logs

  • 1
    Cut Body

    Use Cellerator_Sheet_Metal_Drawing.pdf to cut 1/32 steel sheet

  • 2
    Fold Sheet Metal

    Use metal break to fold steel on dotted line marked on Cellerator_Sheet_Metal_Drawing.pdf

  • 3
    Drill Holes

    Using an xxx drill bit drill hole marked on Cellerator_Sheet_Metal_Drawing.pdf. 

View all 8 instructions

Enjoy this project?



Starhawk wrote 07/20/2020 at 02:42 point

Good promo text up top there... but it's not obvious (at least to someone outside the biotech field, such as me) what this is and what it does or enables others to do.

Could you add a plaintext explanation that a relatively ordinary person, or a "nerd" (eg me... although TBH I'm more "dork" level at this point, LOL) with limited biotech/bio-anything/chemistry/etc understanding could pick up pretty well...?

Thanks! :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

S James Parsons Jr wrote 07/21/2020 at 19:17 point

Thanks Starhawk, I changed the description... How does it look now?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Starhawk wrote 07/21/2020 at 21:08 point

Better :)

If I'm understanding this, it's something along the lines of a pick-and-place machine, but for custom proteins? (In which case, although its *function* would be more like a pick-and-place, I imagine that its *operation* would be more like a 3D printer...)

  Are you sure? yes | no

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